HITS ALL THE RIGHT TRAVEL NOTES

If the mention of Half Moon Bay conjures pumpkin patches and Christmas tree farms, it’s time to take a closer look at this charming oceanside locale. Less than a two-hour drive from Downtown Napa, Half Moon Bay does indeed provide these particular fall and winter visit motivations, but in any season, the town features all the great shops, galleries, restaurants, hotels and inns associated with a funky California beach village, yet with smaller crowds than those found at its seaside neighbors to the south.

While time here appears to stand still, growth has been slow and steady, but it doesn’t show. Visitors will find original farms, plenty of open space, and miles of unspoiled coastline, which can be easily explored by walking the flat, paved California Coastal Trail. Lodging options run the gamut, from quaint bed and breakfast inns to luxurious resorts. A variety of restaurants line Main St., offering everything from coffee shop comfort fare to renowned Italian cuisine. And with 70 wineries within an hour’s drive, one need not stray far to taste some of California’s (and the world’s) best.

WHERE TO SIP

La Nebbia Winery: A local landmark since 1979, La Nebbia is the oldest bonded winery in town. The charming tasting room and garden are the perfect spot at which to nibble a la carte charcuterie and sip varietals sourced from throughout California’s varied wine regions. Listen to music, play a game of bocce ball, and enjoy the camaraderie generated by more than 40 years of fine hospitality. // www.lanebbiawinery.com

Vinoteca: This sleek tasting room located on Main Street features half glass, glass, and bottle options of various wines from around the world – from French bubbles to Argentine Rosé to Spanish Tempranillo. Most wines are from small, family-owned wineries, each with a story to tell. The tasting room walls are lined with photos of the owners’ travels to France, Italy, Argentina, and California wine regions. Vinoteca also serves local beers from Hop Dogma and Half Moon Bay Brewing. // www.vinotecahmb.com

Half Moon Bay Wine & Cheese Company: This downtown mainstay features a collegial tasting bar at which 60 different wines stand at the tasting ready. The large shop also carries picnic supplies and unusual gift items. The knowledgeable and friendly staff can help curate your tasting based on your favorite flavor profiles, and they can also serve up a cheese and charcuterie accompaniment with your selected flight. // www.hmbwineandcheese.com

                     

Barterra: A visit to Barterra is like taking a tour through California’s AVAs. The staff is forever on the hunt for the very best California wines. Featured are Pinot Noir, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sparkling from Carneros, Sangiovese from Silverado, Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Primitivo from Lodi, Viognier from Paso Robles, Sauvignon Blanc from Russian River, Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley, Riesling and French Colombard from Mendocino, and special dessert wines from Madera. // www.barterrawinery.com

Thomas Fogarty Winery: Not exactly located in Half Moon Bay, but worth the 40-minute drive to the beautiful Woodside mountains is Thomas Fogarty Winery, best known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The 300-acre estate and its tasting room and patio command stunning views of the vineyards and Silicon Valley. The romantic setting makes it a popular Bay Area wedding venue. // www.fogartywinery.com

                          

WHERE TO STAY

Situated atop a breathtaking ocean bluff overlooking 50 miles of rugged California coastline, The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay is undoubtedly the region’s hospitality grand dame. The six-story shingle-style structure evokes the ambiance of the grand East Coast and European seaside sanctuaries of yore. Featuring Ritz-Carlton glamour and the brand’s trademark stellar service, the resort is designed to blend in unobtrusively with a coastline that embraces its equal share of fog and sunshine. // www.ritzcarlton.com

If smaller is more your style, try the Nantucket Whale Inn, inspired by the grand homes on Nantucket Island. Located on the quieter end of Main Street, this charming inn features seven rooms and a lovely garden in which to enjoy a complimentary glass of wine each evening. Walk to nearby shops, the beach, and many fine restaurants. // www.nantucketwhaleinn.comIf a room with a view is paramount, check out Beach House Half Moon Bay. This luxury boutique hotel’s 54 junior suites are designed to take advantage of the Pacific Ocean and Santa Cruz Mountain vistas. Each suite features a fireplace, cozy robes, and sumptuous bedding. // www.beach-house.com

WHERE TO DINE

For breakfast, check out the pastry selections at Main Street’s Moonside Bakery and Café or venture to El Granada for omelets, scrambles, bagels, and grilled cheese at The Press. // www.moonsidebakery.com; www.thepressgrilledcheese.com

Dad’s Luncheonette, located in a historic train caboose along Highway 1, is an ‘in-the-know’ favorite for lunch. ‘Dad’ is former Michelin-star chef Scott Clark, who offers roadside classics like burgers, homemade potato chips, and mac & cheese. Be sure to get there early as they often sell out. // www.dadsluncheonette.com

Photo courtesy of Dad’s Luncheonette

For dinner, head to family-owned It’s Italia, where delicious gourmet pizzas, house pastas, and creative cocktails have been pleasing customers since 1997. // www.itsitaliarestaurant.com

For the ultimate in fine dining, it’s Navio at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay. Chef de Cuisine Francisco Simón helms this destination restaurant where he serves innovative yet approachable cuisine that celebrates the bounty of the sea as well as prime cuts. Select from the three-course prix fixe menu or Chef Simón’s signature five-course Chef’s Tasting Menu with an optional wine pairing. // www.ritzcarlton.com

               

WHAT TO DO

Don’t miss Jupiter & Main, a general store that harkens to a bygone era; customers are encouraged to peruse artisan home goods, self-care products, quality barware, fashionable menswear, leather goods, and an extensive apothecary. // www.jupiterandmain.com 

Feed & Fuel features small, live animals in the back and Cunha’s Country Store & Deli has been in operation since 1924. // www.hmbfeedandfuel.com; www.cunhacountrystore.com

Walk along the docks at Pillarpoint Harbor and check out the local fishermen selling fresh seafood directly off of their boats. Then stop-in at Mavericks Surf Company, owned by Jeff Clark, who surfed the region’s famed waves for 15 years before the big-wave surfing community discovered the area. // www.maverickssurfcompany.com

Horseback riding, whale watching cruises, swimming, and surfing are also all within easy reach.

Story By: Fran Miller